Dancehall star Lisa Hyper has urged her Dancehall/Reggae compatriots to seek external help, if and when, they realise that they are having mental health struggles.
Speaking in a recent interview with Nikki Z on The Bridge 99 FM, the Pretty Butterfly artist said that mental health challenges ought not to be viewed with shame, as all humans contend with it at some point in their lives and that she too, had grappled with mental health issues in the past.
“When you have mental problems seek help; nothing is wrong with it. Mental heath (problems) – everybaddy guh through it. Me guh through it. Lisa Hype guh through it,” she emphasized.
“Suh oonu seek help. Don’t be too shame or full a pride or too much ego. Oonu seek help, especially di artiste. Becaw wi too egotistical sometime,” she added.
Mental Health professionals from the Ministry of Health have long pointed out that while persons who have mental illnesses are often stigmatised, Jamaicans should be made aware that anyone can become a victim of such disorders, as it is simply another illness just like hypertension or diabetes.
In fact, one Mental Health officer in Hanover parish had pointed out a few years ago in a Gleaner interview, that mental illness was not just something that “runs in families”, but that a very healthy person could get into an accident, sustain a head injury, or experience or witness a traumatising or violent act, which could result in mental illness.
A 2019 Pan American Health Organization United Nations Development Programme PAHO report titled Care for Mental Health Conditions in Jamaica The Case for Investment, which evaluated the return on investment of scaling up treatment for depression, anxiety and psychosis on the island, found that the economic and social burden of mental illness is considerable.
The report noted that mental illness is predicted to cause US$ 2.76 billion in lost economic output in Jamaica from 2015 to 2030, and that this was “a higher economic burden than from any single category of noncommunicable disease conditions except cardiovascular disease”.
The report called for the Jamaican Government to make investments in addressing mental health important, in order to improve quality of life “from childhood through older age”, as many mental health problems and illnesses begin in childhood or adolescence.
“Over time, in Jamaica, there has been a rise in the number of individuals seeking treatment for mental illness. In 2013 and 2014, there were approximately 90,000 visits to public health facilities for mental health treatment annually,” PAHO noted in the report.
“Visits increased by about 20 percent per year in the following two years, with nearly 108,000 visits in 2015 and 132,000 in 2016. These numbers may represent as little as half of the actual need for treatment, as the treatment gap for mental disorders in the Caribbean region ranges from 37.4 percent (non-affective psychoses) to 64.0 percent (bipolar disorder),” it added.
PAHO said in the report that the results indicate that investing in mental health would help the Government of Jamaica to avoid significant economic losses and social costs. Additionally, it noted that over the period 2019 to 2033, scaling up the selected package of interventions would improve health, while “scaled-up treatment for depression, anxiety, and psychosis would restore 75,883 healthy life years to the Jamaican population”.
“Health gains from scaled-up treatment for depression, anxiety, and psychosis would lead to large economic productivity gains (J$ 39 billion) and social benefits (J$ 21 billion). These benefits significantly outweigh the medical (J$ 12.5 billion) and intervention package implementation costs (J$ 1.7 billion) associated with scaling up treatment,” the United Nations agency said.
The report also said that anxiety interventions have the highest return on investment, as for every Jamaican dollar invested in clinical treatments for anxiety, Jamaica can expect J$5.50 Jamaican dollars in return, while the depression treatment package has the next highest return on investment at J$5.20 followed by the psychosis treatment package with J$1.10.
“Though inadequate responses to mental illness pose a significant health and economic burden, the results from this analysis show that Jamaica can significantly reduce the burden of mental illness by investing in interventions designed to improve mental health,” the PAHO report said.